Congress

A Jewish Republican accused a Muslim Democrat of anti-Semitism, she accused him of Islamophobia

Twitter spat appears to end after Rep. Omar offers Rep. Zeldin an olive branch

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., is one of two Muslim women in the House. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Twitter spat between New York Rep. Lee Zeldin and Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar appeared to conclude at about midnight Friday, after a work week of back-and-forth accusations between the two lawmakers of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

Omar, who is Muslim, invited Zeldin, who is Jewish, to meet with her in her office “over Somali tea” to “share notes on how to fight religious discrimination of all kinds.” The heated Twitter exchange began after Omar felt a tweet by Zeldin was an “Islamophobic dogwhistle,” and crested when Zeldin challenged Omar to condemn a voicemail left for his office by an unidentified caller who derided him, unironically, as a “Nazi Jew.”

Zeldin agreed in theory to the detente — though he still questioned whether Omar disagreed with everything a caller said in an anti-Semitic slur-filled voicemail to his office.

Omar had previously said the voicemail was “heinous and hateful” and that her office, too, is “flooded with bigoted voicemails and calls every day.”

The offices of Omar and Zeldin did not provide any information on whether the two would actually meet, and only referred to their respective lawmakers’ latest tweets.

Omar has taken heat for making statements that critics say are anti-Israel. She apologized last week for a 2012 tweet in which she wrote “Israel has hypnotized the world.”

The beef started on Tuesday when Zeldin announced he had been named ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, and took a swipe at Democrats and Omar in the process.

“Just learned Freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar was also put on this committee w oversight of US foreign policy,” Zeldin tweeted. “Crazy to watch what House Dems are empowering/elevating.”

Omar retweeted a retweet of Zeldin’s original tweet (yes, you’re reading that correctly) suggesting it was an “Islamophobic dogwhistle,” and added her own spice to the mix. 

“Don’t mind him, he is just waking up to the reality of having Muslim women as colleagues who know how to stand up to bullies!” Omar wrote. “It’s gonna be fun watching him lose his marbles.”

Zeldin then did apparently lose his marbles, suggesting in a follow-up retweet of Omar’s retweet of a retweet of Zeldin’s original tweet that Omar sympathized with “ISIS fighters” and “Palestinian terrorists.” (Read that sentence again if you have to.)

“Your anti-Semitic & anti-Israel hate is strong & wrong & those terrorists have US blood on their hands as well,” Zeldin wrote to Omar.

He then tweeted at her with the attached voicemail from a constituent who said that Jews have systematically “murdered” and “enslaved” black people and were improperly occupying Palestine.

“This new VM just came into my office. @IlhanMN, this is just another day in my world as an American Jew in Congress. Would love to know what part of this hate filled, anti-Semitic rant you disagree with? I disagree with all of it. Do you?” Zeldin asked Omar, who has received dozens of such phone calls denigrating her Muslim faith.

It remains unclear whether the proposed meeting will actually take place, though Zeldin and Omar will see each other frequently in the Foreign Affairs oversight subcommittee.

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